Screen Junkies revisits Will Smith's infamous 1999 bomb with their Honest Trailer for the steampunk western action-comedy Wild Wild West. The film came out at a time when Smith was at the height of his blockbuster game, having starred back to back in Independence Day and Men in Black a couple years earlier, and being fresh off another hit in Tony Scott's Enemy of the State. On paper, the idea of Smith reuniting with Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld for another irreverent, genre-blending tentpole loosely based on a lesser-known IP (here, the 1960s TV series The Wild Wild West) seemed like a decent idea, but ended up being something else altogether in motion.
Six writers and a $170 million production later, Wild Wild West opened to all but universally poor reviews and fell well short of covering its filming costs domestically (its worldwide box office total was only $222 million). It had the same mix of satire, buddy comedy, and wacky sci-fi elements as Smith and Sonnenfeld's previous collaboration, but the execution wasn't there and it failed to make up with the difference by being extra bombastic, in addition to doubling-down on the innuendo. Twenty years later, the film has aged about as gracefully as one might expect.
In that time, there have been a few movies with similar elements (like Django Unchained) that've gone on to become hits, suggesting that Wild Wild West had the potential to be better than it was. For more on that, check out the Wild Wild West Honest Trailer in the space below.
As pointed out here, Wild Wild West turning out the way it did was actually a good thing in some ways. The film prevented Smith from starring in The Matrix and, in doing so, helped to revive Keanu Reeves' action movie career after he made a string of unsuccessful thrillers post-Speed (some of which, admittedly, have gone on to achieve cult status, like Johnny Mnemonic). It also seemed to teach Smith a valuable lesson about his career, at a time when he was actively trying to avoid being pigeon-holed as "the sci-fi alien movie guy".
Smith and Sonnenfeld later went on to work together again on a pair of Men in Black sequels, and Hollywood has largely stayed away from sci-fi western mashups since then (with exceptions like Cowboys & Aliens, which was only relatively more successful than Wild Wild West). And as funny as it would've been, it's probably for the best that producer Jon Peters forced his giant spider idea into this project rather than A Star is Born or his followup collaboration with Smith on Ali.
Source: Screen Junkies